The parish of St Thomas Aquinas is pleased to welcome your enquiries for the celebration of your wedding
Information about marriages
We hope the following information will help you with your wedding plans. Whether you are both Catholic, or only one of you is a Catholic, you are welcome.
A Church is not merely a picturesque or traditional place in which to wed. People who choose to be married in a church are actually choosing to make their commitment to each other publicly, in the presence of God, their families and friends. We in the Parish of St Thomas Aquinas regard this aspect of marriage with reverence and great importance.
We would like to help you in every way possible – to understand this importance, and to make your wedding of deep and happy significance for you.
Arranging your wedding
Please contact the Parish Priest to arrange your wedding. He (or the priest or deacon who will celebrate your wedding) may need to see you several times before your marriage, so please make an early appointment, at least four months before the intended wedding day, and don’t leave it until the last few weeks before the wedding. (If one of you has been married before, it is essential that the parish priest be contacted well ahead of the date of your intended wedding, and informed of this.)
Please note that if you live in another parish, but wish to be married in either St Mary Immaculate Church (Tauranga) or St Joseph’s (Te Puna) you will need to see your own Parish Priest to prepare for your marriage.
Your Priest will advise you of the various documents you will need: Baptismal Certificate, Confirmation Certificate, Marriage License, Pre-nuptial Enquiry.
Marriage preparation courses
The Diocese of Hamilton strongly recommends that you prepare for your marriage by attending marriage preparation lessons. The course is organised through the parish office. The facilitators of the course in this parish are Pat and Pauline Jacques.
Once you have completed the documentation and the preparation course, you will begin to plan the wedding liturgy (i.e. service). If both of you are Catholic, then you may choose to have a Nuptial Mass, the Church’s richest celebration of marriage.
If one of you is not Catholic, or if a significant number of your guests are not Catholic, you may choose to have a service instead – still with readings, prayers, Nuptial Blessing, and so on, but without the Eucharist (Communion).
You need to make this decision in consultation with the priest or deacon celebrating your marriage.
No doubt you would like the flowers in the Church to fit with the colour scheme of your wedding part. Please remember that if there is another wedding in the Church on ‘your day’, the flowers will have to be more general in their colouring.
Members of the parish do the floral arrangements, and the most practical arrangements you could make would be to contact the Parish Secretary for the name and phone number of the person who would be in charge of flowers that week. The cost of flowers is your responsibility and you need to speak with the flower arranger regarding this. If you are prepared to supply your own flowers this cost does not apply.
There are a number of organists who play the organ for Sunday Masses, and for other occasions. You may contact one of the parish organists – ask the Parish Secretary for information regarding organists. The normal fee for an organist is $100 which you give them on the day, or beforehand.
Choice of music...
Some music is more appropriate at a reception than in a church. A Parish organist will help you choose appropriate hymns, if you don’t have suitable favourites of your own. You may wish to have a soloist or have your guests sing, in which case you will need to choose hymns that most will be comfortable singing.
You may play music on a CD, but it must be tasteful, and in keeping with the dignity of the occasion.
Donation to church – priest/deacon
The up-keep and running expenses of the church are considerable. The Parish does not set a fee but to defray the costs providing and maintaining the church facility a donation relative to other wedding costs is appreciated. It is customary to also make an offering to the priest or deacon who celebrates your marriage.
Not many weddings have altar servers these days unless there is someone in their family already trained as one. However, if you do want servers, and don’t know any, the celebrant (priest or deacon) may be able to arrange this.
A video and photos may be taken during the ceremony, as long as the photographer is careful to be unobtrusive. We suggest that the photographer visit the church beforehand to check the lighting, etc. There are various places outside which are suitable for photos also. Your photographer should check these.
Confetti & rice:
We ask that guests do not throw either confetti or rice in the environs of the church.
Preparation for your marriage:
Because the people in the Church community care about you and your forthcoming marriage, you are asked to:
- Pray regularly together, asking God to guide and bless your relationship.
- Arrange to talk with a priest and discuss your marriage with him. The time to do this is when you first decide to marry and before you make any other arrangements, at least four months before the proposed date.
- Participate in the pre-marriage courses authorized by the Church and conducted by dedicated couples whose experience of marriage will help to enrich your own understanding.
- Read some helpful books and pamphlets on marriage.
The Catholic Church teaches this about marriage:
- It is a community of life and love.
- It is a unique relationship between two people, different from every other relationship.
- It is the community in which most people will grow and develop in love, in their ability to relate to others and in their ability to love and serve God and their fellow men and women.
- It is open to the creation of new life.
It is for keeps.
For those who are baptised it is a sacrament, a sign of God’s love which concerns the whole community of the Church, not just the bride and groom.
It is the couple who minister the sacrament of marriage one to the other when they exchange their vows. Their marriage begins at that moment, and it continues through their whole life as they minister God’s grace to one another.
May God bless you as you prepare for your marriage.
May God bless your wedding day with joy, and may God be with you in your future together.